Jak Skelly image - Sweeney Todd 078

My name is Jak and I am 18 years old. I have been singing, dancing and acting from the age of 6, competing throughout the UK. I have won several major titles including Senior English Song and Dance Champion for 2 consecutive years and English Tap Champion. My dream has always been to be on the West End and I took every opportunity to perform. I was a member of two amateur theatre groups and had lead roles in productions of Joseph, Hairspray, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story and this year performed as Jean Val Jean in Les Miserables, Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors and the highlight was playing the lead role of Sweeney Todd in the musical of the same name at Curve theatre in Leicester.

I knew I wanted to study and have further training at a reputable college and I successfully auditioned for a BA Hons course at the Arts Educational Schools in London. Unfortunately due to changes in student funding the cost of the course was extremely prohibitive. I had known that I would have to pay something towards the fees and had been saving over the years from dance competition winnings, wages from a part-time job, selling things on eBay, donations from other people and I even recorded an album and sold it to family, friends and local businesses to raise extra funds, but I was still short. I approached Leicester Charity Link to see if they could assist. They put me in touch with the Alderman Newton’s Educational Foundation. I was asked to attend an interview to explain why I needed the funds and the Foundation very kindly gave me a grant which helped substantially with my first year’s fees.

I have just completed my first term and it is exceeding all my expectations. I am learning so much, having lessons with some of the leading West End stars and directors including Cameron Mackintosh. The hours are long: we start at 8am with 2 hours of ballet every day and work through to 7pm with lessons in acting, voice training, acting through song, tap, jazz and contemporary dance along with ensemble and individual singing. I am so happy and I cannot thank the charity enough as without their help I would not have been able to pursue my dream. I hope that one day I will be in a position to be able to repay the charity.